North Carolinians speak out on harm of anti-gay amendment
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Two advocacy groups are speaking out and highlighting the messages of citizens and residents opposed to an anti-gay constitutional amendment that could ban all relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
In February, state Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston) introduced an amendment that would ban recognition of marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships. A less harsh version of the amendment that would impact marriage only was filed in the state House of Representatives last week.
In response to the proposed legislation, a diverse group of faith leaders, community representatives and other supporters of LGBT equality are speaking out on the harm an anti-LGBT amendment would cause the state and its residents. These reactions (see below), collected in a partnership between Equality North Carolina, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy organization, and LGBT educational organization Faith and America, capture the legislation’s potential negative impact on North Carolina’s children, economy and overall reputation as the last Southern state that would codify such discrimination. A majority of North Carolinians are opposed to efforts to write discrimination into the constitution.
In addition to their efforts to highlight the voices of those opposed to discrimination, Equality North Carolina has also ramped up its statewide Equality in Action campaign. The group has held several town hall meetings across the state and supporters are collecting more than 20,000 “Keep Discrimination Out of NC!” postcards to be delivered to state senators and representatives demanding they fight against this type of blatant discrimination in their district.
Tar Heel voices
On the proposed amendment’s harm to North Carolina’s children:
“If this type of discriminatory amendment is passed, North Carolina high school students will face even more self doubt and self-esteem issues. Our kids will be less willing (than they already are) to come out and be open about their sexuality. This will then result in even more self-esteem and academic issues—and possibly even self-inflicted injuries. This new law will ultimately be giving our children a very bleak future with little to no hope of them ever being ‘recognized’ and ‘accepted.’”
— Herb Nowak, Student Assistance Program Coordinator (SAP), Heritage High School (Wake Forest, N.C.)
“Every day I counsel with gifted and beautiful gay people who struggle to see the goodness in themselves because of cruel condemnations they hear from their churches and other parts of society. How many young people have to die at their own hands before we realize things like the constitutional amendment are sending messages that destroy people’s lives?”
— Jack McKinney (Raleigh, N.C.)
On the proposed amendment’s roots in religion-based bigotry:
“It took my world being shaken up after losing a son from an accidental drug overdose, at which time we found out he was gay. It was not being gay that lead him to a reckless use of drugs nor did it destroy his body and spirit; it was the words, which came from those he loved that called themselves Christians. The drugs just deadened the pain he felt everyday. Now I live with the fact I was one who did this to him. It took years after his death for me to start reading, studying and searching for truth. Now I have stepped out of my closeted world and speak out for those that are being harmed. It is up to our representatives to stand up for all citizens. I have heard it said that no one ever won their civil rights until good people could keep silence no longer. Our representatives need to step up and speak up for all.”
— Rosemarie Walston, mother, (Nashville, N.C.)
“Among the many students who were conflicted over their sexual preferences during my tenure as the campus minister of a church related college, the one that stands out most deals with the male student who was at the end of his rope and articulated how he intended to kill himself that evening (it was confirmed that he did have a gun in his room, which was confiscated while I had a room search conducted while we were in session) to escape the ridicule, taunts, bullying and badgering that had become all too common over the course of the nineteen years he had lived. At that moment that student’s life was far more important to me than his sexual orientation and what he was about to do was far weightier than any of the fundamental “religious” platitudes often used to destroy life. The words that rose up in my spirit were “Behold, I come quickly” Revelations 22:7 and for that student He did. He did not take his life that night. All life is precious. When will we see that the harm (emotional and psychological) we inflict on others produces permanent and indelible scars. ”
— Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, pastor, Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church (Hickory, N.C.)
“Marginalizing anyone as a result of their sexuality is robbing of that individual’s life and personhood. It is not fair and the very Christian values that are often lifted up as the reason for disallowing marriage equality are against the very principles that Jesus preached, taught and exemplified. ”
— Pastor Roger Hayes, Master of Divinity ’13, Wake Forest University School of Divinity (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
On the proposed amendment’s impact to North Carolina’s reputation:
“As a lesbian, I was initially nervous about attending a southern university. But the University of North Carolina proved to be an inclusive environment for all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. Now, as a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, through me my partner Hillary can even receive domestic partner benefits, including health insurance. An anti-LGBT constitutional amendment could change all of that, in addition to making me feel unwelcome in a state I now call home. I am one of many in North Carolina who don’t want to live, study or work in a state where this type of discrimination can be codified.”
— Kate McFarland, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Carrboro, N.C.)
“Shame on this ‘group think’, this ‘mob think’, this ‘frantic think’ to legislate discrimination and bigotry. By passing H777/SB106, the NC Legislature is a direct active participant in establishing and sanctioning fear and hate based discrimination that will harm all citizens (now and future) living within the State of North Carolina.”
— Ralph & Corinne Cooper (Forsyth County, N.C.)
— compiled from release
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About the author: Matt Comer was the editor of QNotes, first hired to serve in the role in October 2007, with his tenure ending August 23, 2015.